COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #4 – Out of the Box

Out of the Box

A really neat application that I recently discovered is story maps. As their name suggests, story maps are just another social media channel to tell a story.

In a nutshell, story maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other rich content — text, photos, video, and audio — within user experiences that are basic and intuitive. They use the tools of geographic information systems (GIS) but don’t require their users to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS so anyone with access to the Internet and a curiosity about the world can use them, according to their web site.

Similar to when you walk through an art gallery and listen to a tour on headphones, one great application for a story map is a walking tour through a historic district.

In my day job, people have asked me to create an Ottawa River trail. The river is more than 1200km long and if you virtually covered both sides of the river you could potentially have 2400 locations, 1km apart. I envision a story map fundraiser based on a combination of such ‘old school’ fundraisers as a ‘donation wall’ (where you buy a cardboard heart or leaf and tape it to a wall) and the ‘adopt a mile of highway’ campaign.

I still need to figure out how to monetize this app, and how to let viewers upload their own content relating to a specific part of the river, via Twitter for instance, in return for a donation. Speaking of Twitter, it does have a “geolocated API” which lets developers build geolocation into their tweets so merging the two channels shouldn’t be that difficult. Additionally, I need to sort out how staff could curate or moderate the content to avoid inappropriate postings.

The sky’s the limit with this app, and I am super excited about its potential. You could actually create a map that goes back in time with layers of content relating to each decade.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for using story maps, as well as your ideas to monetize it and easily automate uploading content from multi-users.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #3

Professional Networking Now and in the Future

My strategy to develop my professional network online and in person comprises five components.

First, I need to beef up my Linked In profile, since this is often the first place a new contact will look for me.  Accordingly, I will update my resume to highlight my newly-completed social media certificate, and link my profile to my company web site and blog. In addition, I will ask both colleagues and clients for recommendations.

Second, I will update my corporate blog by showcasing all the projects I have worked on over the last several months. I will also spotlight how social media was successfully used in each project. Luckily, the projects I work on are visually-rich so I will be able to include lots of images.  The plan is to quickly summarize each project in photo essays instead of lengthy written blogs and or use free apps like which automatically turns images, video clips and music into videos. I will promote said blogs on both Twitter and Facebook. Concurrently, I will update my corporate Facebook cover photo and web site masthead image.

Third, I will lend my professional expertise to a good cause and take on a project pro bono. Doing community service and volunteering in person pays off in spades. It is a terrific way to meet like-minded people and new clients, and in effect ‘test the waters’ to see if you like working with these people.

Here is a video capturing a Monster Book Sale I organized for my local community centre last fall with the help of local students. Created with Animoto, the video took 40 minutes to produce.

Monster Book Sale

Fourth, I will use Twitter hash tags to develop a network of contacts relating to a new side venture which involves turning a hobby into a business. I have lots of local contacts but need to focus on broadening my horizons and developing relationships with international suppliers.

Fifth, again relating to this new venture, I will join some local clubs this summer and take some continuing education courses next fall in order to establish my credentials and develop a network of people who could refer new business to me.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #2

Strong & Weak Organizations

The Ottawa Food Bank is one local non-profit organization with an impressive social media strategy; while CHEO Foundation is another local organization whose social media strategy in my opinion needs improvement.

The Ottawa Food Bank caught my attention when it made Charity Intelligence Canada’s 2012 Top Picks list of the best run charities in Canada. It was the only local charity to make the list and one of 45 Canada-wide that did make the list.

6 things the Ottawa Food Bank is doing well

1. They have a Web 2.0-based web site that is updated daily with fresh content.
2. The web site incorporates flat design elements which are a step in the right direction for making the web site mobile friendly.
3. They have a social media presence on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook – and the tone is warm, friendly and informal.
4. Their social media presence is coordinated across all channels. On February 28, 2014, for example, they blogged about the First Time Donor Super Credit and promoted the blog on both Facebook and Twitter:
“Hey there first time donors! Did you know there’s a Super Tax Credit out there for you?”
5. They post content daily – even on weekends, capturing the Saturday am coffee crowd.
6. They offer donors mobile giving and text to give options.

Ottawa Food Bank also gets kudos for extremely engaged supporters, who are generating content for the organization.

CHEO Foundation popped up on my radar when Charity Intelligence graded them negatively for not being financially transparent, having overly high fundraising/programs ratios and citing them in a report about hospital charity lotteries.

6 things CHEO Foundation is not doing well

1. Their web site is bilingual, their Facebook and Twitter content is not.
2. Their web site is not mobile-optimized whatsoever.
3. They do not offer mobile and text to give options.
4. Cheo Foundation does not have its own Facebook Page. It feeds into an omnibus CHEO Facebook page that it shares with CHEO Hospital and the CHEO Research Institute. Consequently, content has a very “official-corporate-communications-department” tone to it, and it appears content is posted 9-5, Monday – Friday. The foundation is missing the boat on building relationships with such key communities as their event sponsors, donors and volunteers.
5. Cheo Foundation does not have its own Twitter account. It feeds into an omnibus CHEO Twitter account that it shares with CHEO Hospital and the CHEO Research Institute. Again, content has a very “official-corporate-communications-department” tone to it.
6. Some CHEO Foundation events have their own Facebook pages, yet no Twitter pages, with sporadic unilingual postings. As an example, the Facebook page for one of its signature events CN Cycle has postings several months apart. The most recent posting is on February 5, 2014 and the one before that was dated August 27th, 2013. In addition, the masthead banners in the CN Cycle web site and the CN Cycle Facebook cover photo have different event dates – it is all very confusing. I assume someone forgot to update the Facebook 2013 cover photo.

In conclusion, I am rather surprised at CHEO Foundation’s lack-lustre performance in social media channels. It appears this large, well-funded, well-staffed organization considers social media an afterthought.

COM0015 Assignment #5 Event Participation

At the suggestion of a client, I participated in a free professional development webinar “Storytelling with Appeal Letters” as part of the Philanthropy for All Storytelling for Non-Profits Virtual Conference on January 29th, 2014.

Scree capture proving I attended webinar

My fellow attendees included professional fundraisers, marketing and communications people, and volunteer board members. It was heartening to see we face the same challenges, especially in Canada, as we grapple with the imminent impact of Canada Post’s service reductions. That said, many of the take-ways from this webinar including how to create urgency in your story, the frequency of appeals, and how to segment your donor lists apply equally to online appeals.

I liked that the webinar slides were in simple bullet form. Who knew the seven key emotions that make people give are:
• Anger
• Fear
• Exclusivity
• Flattery
• Greed
• Guilt
• Salvation

According to the presenter Mazarine Treyz, “storytelling is key to a great letter. And conflict is key to a good story. Ask yourself what happens when the non-profit-organization is not there to come up with the conflict.”

Of special interest was the discussion around fonts and how to effectively use and incorporate hand-drawn fonts in appeal letters. The presenter highly recommended FontSquirrel as a source for free fonts.

Would I attend a similar event again in the future? Absolutely. The price is right and I also learned about the nifty app AnyMeeting, which offers free and low-cost web, video, and phone conferencing and webinar services for small business.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #1

Tools & Sources

Klout is one of my favorite monitoring tools.  It’s a free easy-to-use app that measures your influence (defined as when you share something on social media and people respond) on a scale of 1-100 across all your networks. I get an email notifying me whenever my Klout score goes up, which serves as a useful reminder to review my social media marketing efforts.

EventBrite’s dashboard also gets my stamp of approval. Eventbrite is an online ticketing system that I use regularly at work. Their dashboard breaks down traffic from various promotional tools and depicts the results in both colorful pie charts and charts so you quickly know exactly where to concentrate your efforts.

Two Best Sources of News

For local news, nothing beats my physical community’s Facebook group.  I love this group so much; I go into serious withdrawal if I don’t check it at least once a day. Members comprise families who reside in a defined geographic area.  Through this group I get immediate notification of safety-related issues in my neighborhood ranging from weather-related road closures and car and marine accidents to bear sightings and power outages. This is important because there is only one road in and out of the rural village I live in. I also get good news, including reports of eagle and snowy owl sightings. As a long-time, trusted and active contributor to this group, I know I will be ahead of the game when I start marketing my new business to the other members.

My second favorite source of news is Twitter. I follow numerous journalists who cover municipal issues so I always get breaking news. I found out the Cheshire Cat pub was burning, for example, before the fire reels even arrived. With respect to my professional development, I find the 140-character length tweets enable me to quickly scan and digest reams of information.